As head of the care team at Porter Dodson, I am often asked the same questions. What is it about the care sector that fascinates me and why should young budding lawyers consider a career in this sector?
These questions are of course interlinked, though the answer to the first question is the more subjective of the two. For me, helping clients who provide care to those less fortunate than myself is intrinsically rewarding. It is altogether more satisfying to do a job that really matters, for people who themselves are trying to make a difference.
My exposure to this area of work came from the advice that I provided to local GP practices. In a time of immense change, I could see that they were struggling with running a business. As pressures on the public purse became more acute, I could see that GPs were concerned about falling profits but were not used to the commercial world. In some cases they simply did not know where they were going. This provided an ideal opportunity for me to advise them on the structure and strategy of their practice.
I was able to advise them on their partnership agreements, employment documentation and third party contractual obligations. This in turn led to me being relied upon to advise them on restructuring their businesses and making them fit for the future. I also picked up a good deal of contentious work and supported them through every aspect of the litigation to which they were subjected.
This soon developed into a wider care sector interest. I could see a number of emerging issues shared by primary health providers and care establishments alike. Compliance has become increasingly important within the sector, with both public providers and private organisations having to grapple with an ever-changing array of legal regulation.
The mix of non-contentious and contentious work is very rewarding. It makes life interesting. You can be putting your drafting skills to full use one day and be engaged in the thrill of full-blown litigation the next. I am, of course, a specialist but my breadth of knowledge is now such that I have become an integral part of how many of my clients operate. I am a specialist with the exposure to work enjoyed by a generalist while at the same time being a private practising lawyer and internal counsel. There are very few such opportunities in other lines of legal work.
An additional element is job security. Within the care sector – public or private – there will always be change. Therefore lawyers will always be required.
So, my advice is that if you want a challenge but wish to work with genuinely inspiring people and have a desire to do a wide variety of work, a career as a lawyer to the care sector may be right up your street.
Adrian Poole is a partner at Porter Dodson
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